The combination of radar, sensor, onboard processing and communications electronics provides critical “see all”, “know all” capabilities in Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) platforms that offers a fundamental building block of a national defense or combat strategy. The Strategy Analytics Advanced Defense Systems (ADS) service predicts that improving AEW&C capabilities creates new opportunities for advanced electronic components with the annual market for electronics growing by over 50 percent through 2020. Details may be found in the report, “Future Trends in Airborne Early Warning & Control Systems.”
While the Boeing Wedgetail and Saab Erieye represent AESA (active electronically scanned arrays) based future generation platforms, the Boeing E-3D Sentry AWACS and Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye represent the operational state of the art. The development time, longevity and expense of the airframe platform makes the AEW&C market uniquely suited to the upgrade market. While the number of new platforms is relatively small, the potential market for upgrades to electronics in existing platforms has the potential to reach $22 B through 2020.
“With the long lifespan of the airframe, the electronics technology has gone through several iterations,” observed Asif Anwar, Director of the Advanced Defense Systems (ADS) service at Strategy Analytics. “New platforms and upgrades are increasingly based on AESA, using solid-state T/R (transmit-receive) modules, as well as using broadband EW (Electronic Warfare) systems, coupled with fiber-optic signal transmission, sensors and more powerful processors.”
“While these trends will provide increasing opportunities for GaAs, SiGe and other advanced semiconductor technologies, mainstream technologies such as TWT (traveling-wave tube) will continue to underpin many platforms,” concluded Anwar.